Neuropathy is a condition in which one or more nerves are damaged causing symptoms such as tingling, numbness, pins and needles sensation, and pain in certain parts of the body.
This condition is rarely life-threatening and there are a number of treatment options. However, a common question about neuropathy is if it can be reversed. Neuropathies vary from person to person so we can’t say for certain that it is reversible.
It all depends on the type of neuropathy and any underlying conditions. Read through this guide to learn more about neuropathy.
As stated previously, there are a number of treatments for neuropathies. The goal of treatment is to manage the condition causing your neuropathy and to relieve symptoms.
If your lab tests indicate no underlying condition, your doctor might recommend watchful waiting to see if your neuropathy improves. The right treatment for neuropathy will depend on the cause of your pain and what kinds of symptoms you’re experiencing.
It may take some time to figure out the kinds of treatments that work best for you.
Medication is a common form of treatment for neuropathy. Forms of medication include:
> Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can relieve mild symptoms. For more-severe symptoms, your doctor might prescribe painkillers.
> Medications containing opioids, such as tramadol (Conzip, Ultram, others) or oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone, others), can lead to dependence and addiction, so these drugs generally are not prescribed unless all other treatments fail.
> Anti-seizure medications. Medications such as gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin, Horizant) and pregabalin (Lyrica), developed to treat epilepsy, may relieve nerve pain. Side effects can include drowsiness and dizziness.
> Topical treatments. Capsaicin cream, which contains a substance found in hot peppers, can cause modest improvements in peripheral neuropathy symptoms. You might have skin burning and irritation when you apply the cream, but this usually lessens over time. Some people, however, can’t tolerate it.
Therapies and procedures might help ease symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
> Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Electrodes placed on the skin deliver a gentle electric current at varying frequencies. TENS should be applied for 30 minutes daily for about a month.
> Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin. These procedures, which help suppress immune system activity, might benefit people with certain inflammatory conditions.
> Plasma exchange involves removing your blood, then removing antibodies and other proteins from the blood, and returning the blood to your body. In immune globulin therapy, you receive high levels of proteins that work as antibodies (immunoglobulins).
> Physical therapy. If you have muscle weakness, physical therapy can help improve your movements. You may also need hand or foot braces, a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair.
> Surgery. If you have neuropathies caused by pressure on nerves, such as pressure from tumors, you might need surgery to reduce the pressure.
Dietary changes could also help relieve symptoms. Your neurologist might refer you to a dietician if you have nerve pain that’s caused or aggravated by nutritional imbalances or high blood sugar. A dietician can help you build good eating habits to promote your nerve health.
Surgery may become an option if symptoms don’t respond to conservative treatment and therapy. In some cases, the pain might be caused by a tumor pressing on a nerve or an orthopedic problem like a fracture or herniated disc. Surgery to remove the tumor or correct a problem may help relieve pain.
For most, a combination of different treatments is the best way to combat neuropathic pain. Your neurologist can help figure out a treatment path that’s both effective and doable for you.
Long-Term Management & Prevention
Even for patients who can’t be completely cured of neuropathy, there are ways to stop the pain from getting worse or spreading. Here are some tips:
> Take any medication exactly as prescribed. If you’ve been given medication for diabetes or another condition, don’t skip doses or stop taking it without consulting your doctor. If you’re taking your medication and still in pain, talk to your neurologist for help.
> Don’t ignore your pain. Talk to your doctor right away if you start feeling new or worsening pain. They may be able to help symptoms from getting worse.
> Take care of your feet. Diabetic neuropathy often begins in the feet—but it’s easy to miss the first signs of nerve damage. Keep an eye out for cuts or blisters that are slow to heal, and don’t ignore pain or numbness.
> Stop smoking. There’s an increased risk of neuropathy in people with diabetes who smoke. Quitting smoking can improve your circulation and may help reduce pain.
> Eat a balanced diet. A diet filled with fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains can help control your blood sugar and provide your body with essential nutrients. If you’re struggling with your diet, talk to your doctor for help.
Can neuropathy be reversed?
Whether or not neuropathy can be reversed depends on the cause of the nerve damage. In some cases, the pain may go away entirely. In others, nerve damage may be permanent.
For example, when neuropathy is caused by an infection, symptoms might go away completely when the infection is treated. If symptoms are caused by a tumor pressing on a nerve, removing the tumor can relieve pain.
However, some damage might be permanent for patients with diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage associated with diabetes), especially if it’s left untreated for long periods. That doesn’t mean there’s no hope—the right combination of treatments and lifestyle changes may greatly improve symptoms in people with diabetes.
Reach out to Integrated Pain Management today!
Our team is dedicated to helping you develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Neuropathy can be a stressful condition but we can help you overcome this. We understand your concerns and we want to help you get back to your active lifestyle. Contact us today!